I just finished reading Ron Jacob’s book “KHJ Inside Boss Radio.” It’s an excellent read and I highly recommend it. It’s out of print, but a new & improved Kindle version is now available from Amazon that brings in more detail about the birth of this legendary Los Angeles Top 40 radio station.
May 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Boss Radio – 93 KHJ.
One of the really unique aspects of this book, that will have any radio geek savoring, are the volume of memos written by Ron Jacobs and sent to his Boss Jocks; Robert W. Morgan & The Real Don Steele among them.
Ron Jacobs competed against Bill Drake in Fresno, California. When Drake was hired by RKO Radio to turn things around at their decrepit AM 930 “K-indness H-ope & J-oy” he hired the guy who gave him the most competition; Ron Jacobs. Together they would launch a new contemporary sound on the radio and Top 40 Radio would never be the same.
Ron Jacobs later in life would interview Bill Drake and that’s also quite an interesting read.
What I learned as I poured though the memos Ron Jacobs wrote over his four years at KHJ was his tremendous attention to detail. Ron was a talented air personality in his own right, but he never did an air shift at KHJ. I asked Ron that very question and he said the only time he was ever heard on KHJ was in a promotional bit involving his most famous summer promotion “The Big Kahuna.” What Ron DID do was listen to his radio station. Relentlessly.
Think about that for a moment; one radio station and disc jockeys with 3-hour air shifts and a program director that wasn’t on the air.
Ron worried about EVERYTHING. He also dreamed up incredible promotions for the station; so many in fact, that a new one might be beginning before the current one ended. Oh and Ron told me he had a $50,000/month promotions budget (1965-1969).
RKO had two media properties in Los Angeles in the 60s; KHJ-TV9 and 93-KHJ. All the money was made on KHJ-TV, until the team of Jacobs/Drake launched Boss Radio. The station became so successful that it would out-bill the TV property and of course, the format would be placed all across America on other RKO owned and operated radio stations (The Drake Format).
But it’s not just radio that has lost this attention to detail. A headline caught my eye that read “And then there were none.” It was a news story about how the copy desk at The Cincinnati Enquirer was no longer going to be staffed.
For those of you, who may not be familiar with what a copy desk is or does at a newspaper, let me explain. The copy desk is where the copy editors work. Copy editors read over the copy composed by journalists for things like spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage and a continuity of style that make a newspaper’s published prose look polished and professional. Copy editors also ask those awkward questions like: Is this clear? Is this right? Is this plagiarized? Is this libelous? Is this a story? Is this true?
Sounds like a lot of attention to detail, much akin to what I read in the memos of Ron Jacobs to his Boss Jocks.
I’m sure there are similar stories in TV land too.
Watching the Golden Globes the other night, I couldn’t help but notice the TV winners were from places like Amazon, Netflix, Showtime and HBO, and not ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX et al. What separated the winners from the losers? I would profess it was attention to detail.
If TV viewership, newspaper readership, radio listenership are down, might it be the fault of the decision of trying to save your way to success?
I’m sure you know of a TV station, newspaper or radio station that sees the world differently. Pays attention to detail and owns the loyalty of their audience.
Call me naïve, but I believe if you build a media property with attention to detail, they will come.
It’s a universal law of success.